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ExoMars 2016/2020 Data and Analysis (updates)

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Beittil    575

Fingers crossed... Them Russian rockets and Mars missions, ai ai

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Unobscured Vision    2,668
21 minutes ago, Beittil said:

Fingers crossed... Them Russian rockets and Mars missions, ai ai

Yeah .. hopefully the bad stuff is all behind them now.

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Unobscured Vision    2,668

Pretty uneventful launch thus far (now into the S2). Those are the kind we like best. :yes: 

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Beittil    575

Now lets hope for a good TMI, it will be known in about 12 hours if all is well.

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+Mirumir    5,635

Am I correct in understanding that the traceorbiter will become a satellite on an orbit of Mars for the foreseeable future?

 

I wonder what uses it may have in the future after the mission is over, if it has an open interface or not, and what its lifespan is going to be.

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Beittil    575

High res launch pr0n, yummie:

ExoMars_2016_liftoff.jpg

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+Mirumir    5,635

 

 

Protons have the sexiest exhaust tail.

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Draggendrop    5,747

Wow...excellent work guys...eye candy everywhere...made my day....:D

 

Now I'll ruin it with bland data.....:s

 

Quote

The liftoff of the Proton-M rocket with a Briz-M upper stage took place as scheduled on March 14, 2016, at 12:31:42 Moscow Time (09:31 GMT, 5:31 a.m. EDT) from Pad 39 at Site 200 in Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch vehicle carried the Trace Gas Orbiter, TGO, and the Schiaparelli lander for the ExoMars-2016 project.

 

During the initial phase of the powered flight, the three booster stages of the Proton rocket followed a standard flight path to match an orbit with an inclination 51.55 degrees toward the Equator. The first stage propelled by six engines separated around two minutes into the flight, followed by the second stage five and a half minutes after launch.

 

The payload fairing split in two halves and dropped off five minutes 45 seconds into the flight, during the operation of the third stage.

 

Nine minutes 42 seconds after launch, the Briz-M upper stage with the TGO/Schiaparelli combo separated from the third stage of the launch vehicle, still flying on a ballistic suborbital trajectory. One minute 34-seconds after separation, Briz-M fired its engine for the first time over Siberia. The maneuver lasting nearly four and a half minutes inserted the stack into a 175-kilometer parking orbit and was confirmed as successful by Russian and European officials.

 

The spacecraft then flew passively for one hour 18 minutes, almost completing a revolution around the Earth before restarting its engine over Southern Russia. The maneuver extending over most of Asia pushed the spacecraft into an intermediate elliptical (egg-shaped) orbit. The spacecraft passed an apogee (highest point) over the Pacific Ocean around three hours after launch and then began accelerating back toward its home planet for another hour.

 

Around four hours into the flight, as the vehicle crossed the coast of Portugal, Briz-M initiated its third firing. This time, the maneuver sent the stack into the so-called transfer orbit. Shortly after completing the third firing, Briz-M jettisoned its doughnut-shaped external tank, which was likely detected by NORAD radar in a 697 by 21,086-kilometer orbit.

 

To reach its new, much higher apogee, Briz-M with ExoMars had to coast passively for nearly three hours until the Earth's gravity pulled it back yet again.

 

Finally, at 19:47 GMT, or more than 10 hours after leaving Baikonur, Briz-M initiated its fourth and final engine firing to break itself from the Earth's gravitational field and enter a Mars-bound trajectory. The maneuver was taking place, while the spacecraft was overflying the Great Lakes, Eastern Canada and the Atlantic Ocean. Because the manuever was conducted beyond the view of Russian ground stations, its confirmation came only around 20:02 GMT.

 

Less than 14 minutes later, at 20:12:45 GMT, the TGO/Schiaparelli stack separated from the Briz-M upper stage more than 5,000 kilometers away from Earth.

 

The nearly empty upper stage should then perform two small braking maneuvers to make sure it never crosses path with its former passengers.

In the meantime, the TGO spacecraft should attain a stable orientation relative to the Sun and begin the deployment of its two solar panels. The deployment of the high-gain antenna is expected within first 24 hours after launch, however its use is not expected until more than two weeks after launch.

 

ground_track_1.jpg

Ground track during the launch of the ExoMars-2016 mission on March 14, 2016. Passive phases of the mission are shown in red and powered flight is marked with yellow. Moving eastward, the spacecraft will make three progressively higher orbits around the Earth pushed by four firings of the Briz-M space tug at perigee (lowest points of the orbit). As the spacecraft enters its Mars-bound trajectory over Africa after the fourth maneuver and begins its movement away from Earth, rather than around it, the planet's eastward rotation will cause the reversal of the probe's ground track over the Southern Hemisphere.

 

Quote

Timeline of the ExoMars-2016 launch on March 14, 2016:

Event
Elapsed time
Moscow Time
GMT
EST
Liftoff
0
12:31:42
09:31:42
5:31 a.m.
Stage I separation
119.7 seconds / ~ 2 min.
12:33
09:33:41.7
5:33 a.m.
Stage II separation
327.2 seconds / 5 min. 27 sec.
12:37
09:37:09.2
5:37 a.m.
Payload fairing jettison

346.7 sec. / 5 min. 46 sec.

12:37
09:37:28.7
5:37 a.m.
Stage III separation
581.6 sec. / 9 min. 41 sec.
12:41
09:41:23.6
5:41 a.m.
Briz-M Burn 1 (269 seconds -- 4 min. 29 sec.)
11 min. 16 sec.
12:42
09:42:58
5:42 a.m.
Briz-M Burn 2 (1,083 seconds -- 18 min. 03 sec.)
1 hours 38 min.
14:09
11:09:46
7:09 a.m.
Briz-M Burn 3 (871 seconds -- 14 min. 31 sec.)
3 hours 52 min.
16:23
13:23:58
9:23 a.m.
Briz-M Burn 4 (749 seconds -- 12 min. 29 sec.)
10 hours 16 min.
22:47
19:47:52
3:47 p.m.
Spacecraft separation
10 hours 41 min.
23:13
20:13:01
4:13 p.m.
Transmitter activation, signal acquisition
11 hours 57 min.
00:28*
21:28
5:28 p.m.

*March 15

http://www.russianspaceweb.com/exomars2016-launch.html

 

Europe's New Mars Mission Bringing NASA Radios Along

 

esa-exomars-trace-gas-orbiter-carries-tw

The European Space Agency's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, launched on March 14, 2016, carries two Electra UHF relay radios provided by NASA. This image shows a step in installation and testing of one of those radios, inside a clean room at Thales Alenia Space, in Cannes, France, in June 2014. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/TAS.

 

Quote

Two NASA radios aboard the European Space Agency's Mars mission are engineered to provide communication relay service for rovers and landers on Mars. ESA's ExoMars 2016 mission, combining the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) with the Schiaparelli landing demonstrator, began a seven-month journey to Mars. The twin Electra UHF (ultra-high frequency) radios from NASA are slated for a first in-flight test in about six weeks.

 

"This partnership with Europe will strengthen and extend the existing infrastructure at the Red Planet for orbiters to support assets on the surface," said Phillip Barela of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, project manager for NASA's participation in ExoMars.

 

NASA is on an ambitious journey to Mars that will include sending humans to the Red Planet. Current and future robotic spacecraft are leading the way and will prepare an infrastructure in advance for human missions.

 

TGO's Electra radios use a design from JPL with special features for relaying data from a rover or stationary lander to an orbiter passing overhead. Relay of information from Mars-surface craft to Mars orbiters, then from Mars orbit to Earth, enables receiving much more data from the surface missions than would otherwise be possible.

 

As an example of Electra capabilities, during a relay session between an Electra on the surface and one on an orbiter, the radios can maximize data volume by actively adjusting the data rate to be slower when the orbiter is near the horizon from the surface robot's perspective, faster when it is overhead.

 

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) already use Electra technology for relay of data. NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, in orbit since 2014, also carries an Electra radio.

 

Due to improvements in the newest Electra radios and reduced interference levels compared with MRO, TGO's relay radios are expected to have a relay signal about twice as strong as MRO's. Compared to MAVEN's highly elongated orbit, TGO has a planned orbit similar to MRO's relay-favorable orbit at about 250 miles (400 kilometers) in altitude and nearly circular in shape.

 

TGO's main X-band radio will use a dish antenna 87 inches (2.2 meters) in diameter to communicate with Earth-based antenna networks operated by ESA, NASA and Russia.

http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/Europes_New_Mars_Mission_Bringing_NASA_Radios_Along_999.html

 

:D

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Unobscured Vision    2,668

We like bland data. :yes: Nothing bland about the "Earth Departure Angle on Main Viewer".

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Draggendrop    5,747

There has been talk of a delay in the second half of the mission, from 2018 to 2020. The question has toggled from funding to project schedule. The same happened for the first half, and as we know, close to the line, but it launched. Either way, here is the article...

 

Proton launches Euro-Russian ExoMars mission, but program’s second launch remains in limbo

 

ExoMars-rover-photo-industry-day-879x485

The Euro-Russian ExoMars 2016 orbiter and entry-and-descent demonstrator were placed into orbit on March 14. But the mission's second half, scheduled for 2018 and including a European rover vehicle, remains in doubt as time and money run out. Credit: ESA

 

Quote

PARIS—A Russian Proton heavy-lift rocket on March 14 successfully placed the Euro-Russian ExoMars 2016 mission into orbit, a launch intended as the first half of a program whose second half, scheduled for 2018, remains in doubt.

 

While the ExoMars 2016 entry, descent and landing technology demonstrator and trace-gas-detecting orbiter have value in their own right, ExoMars 2016 was conceived as a mission to include a second liftoff, in 2018, of a European-built Mars rover and a Russian-provided surface science platform.

Notable among the rover’s payload was a drill to dig 2 meters below the Mars surface, far enough below Mars’s radiation-scoured surface to where vestiges of life may be found.

 

The heads of the European and Russian space agencies, meeting at Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome spaceport in Kazakhstan for the launch, on March 13 made vague references to challenges and constraints that could delay ExoMars 2018 to 2020.

 

During the Baikonur briefing, European Space Agency (ESA) Director-General Johann-Dietrich Woerner elected to place the second ExoMars launch in 2020 during his slide presentation, saying he didn’t want to “disappoint people if, under certain circumstances, we have to move it.” For a 2018 launch, he said, the schedule is “very tight.”

 

Igor A. Komarov, head of Russia’s Roscosmos, said Roscosmos and ESA were still discussing ExoMars 2018 and had made no decision. “There are some constraints with the launch in 2018,” Komarov said.

 

Russia’s principal contribution to ExoMars 2018 is a Proton launch. But its role in the experiment package of the 2018 mission is larger than what it is providing for the 2016 mission.

 

ESA has long said it will need a final tranche of financing to complete the ExoMars 2018 mission. The agency has said that, to assure the ExoMars industrial consortium can complete the work in time, ESA would need financial commitments from its governments by June at the latest. ESA officials have estimated that the program would need up to 200 million euros ($218 million) in additional financing to complete the 2018 hardware production and finance operations.

 

ExoMars’ biggest contributor is Italy, followed by Britain – which is leading the rover’s design and manufacturing – and France. The heads of all three nations’ space agencies were in Baikonur alongside Woerner and Komarov.

more at the link...

http://spacenews.com/proton-launches-euro-russian-exomars-mission-but-programs-second-launch-remains-in-limbo/

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+Mirumir    5,635
Quote

Briz-M initiated its third firing

Does anyone know the speed it developed after that?

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Draggendrop    5,747
16 hours ago, Mirumir said:

Does anyone know the speed it developed after that?

Not sure about the velocity after the 3rd burn, was not listed in the articles I was viewing. At approximately 10.5 hours, after launch, escape velocity and transit velocity to meet with Mars, was achieved. Since this was the beginning of the launch window, with Mars back a bit in it's orbital plane, the lower of the required velocities, was instituted. If the window of a few days later was used, Mars would be further along in it's orbit and greater transit velocity would be required.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_velocity

 

If I come across the Briz firing and achieved velocities, I will post them. The times of firing are here...

 

Quote

Timeline of the ExoMars-2016 launch on March 14, 2016:

Event
Elapsed time
Moscow Time
GMT
EST
Liftoff
0
12:31:42
09:31:42
5:31 a.m.
Stage I separation
119.7 seconds / ~ 2 min.
12:33
09:33:41.7
5:33 a.m.
Stage II separation
327.2 seconds / 5 min. 27 sec.
12:37
09:37:09.2
5:37 a.m.
Payload fairing jettison

346.7 sec. / 5 min. 46 sec.

12:37
09:37:28.7
5:37 a.m.
Stage III separation
581.6 sec. / 9 min. 41 sec.
12:41
09:41:23.6
5:41 a.m.
Briz-M Burn 1 (269 seconds -- 4 min. 29 sec.)
11 min. 16 sec.
12:42
09:42:58
5:42 a.m.
Briz-M Burn 2 (1,083 seconds -- 18 min. 03 sec.)
1 hours 38 min.
14:09
11:09:46
7:09 a.m.
Briz-M Burn 3 (871 seconds -- 14 min. 31 sec.)
3 hours 52 min.
16:23
13:23:58
9:23 a.m.
Briz-M Burn 4 (749 seconds -- 12 min. 29 sec.)
10 hours 16 min.
22:47
19:47:52
3:47 p.m.
Spacecraft separation
10 hours 41 min.
23:13
20:13:01
4:13 p.m.
Transmitter activation, signal acquisition
11 hours 57 min.
00:28*
21:28
5:28 p.m.

http://www.russianspaceweb.com/exomars2016-launch.html

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Draggendrop    5,747

How the ExoMars mission could sniff out life on Mars

 

exomars-trace-gas-orbiter-mars-lg.jpg

The orbiter is uniquely designed to map the minute constituents of the Martian atmosphere (such as methane), using a set of highly specialised spectroscopic and imaging instruments.

 

Quote

"It (could be) life Jim, but (perhaps) not as we know it." This is not just a sci-fi catchphrase, but also something some planetary scientists have uttered in response to the discovery of methane in Mars' atmosphere. That's right - scientists believe that some kind of past or present microbial lifeform on Mars could have produced the methane. While it is far from the only possible explanation, it is actually so plausible that a special mission is being sent there to find out.

 

The first part of what could be a series of missions - the European Space Agency's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter - launched on March 14 from Baikonur in Kazakhstan and I watched nervously after having spent 13 years working on one of its instruments. Needless to say, it was one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking days of my life.

 

Many possibilities
The mission is an orbiter that will map trace gases in the atmosphere of Mars, over an entire martian year (two Earth years). Of course the methane in the atmosphere doesn't have to be from microbial life, it could also be caused by cosmic dust or geological processes. ExoMars will test for current geological processes that might be releasing the methane.

 

If all goes well this mission will be followed by a more ambitious ExoMars Rover, designed to test for traces of ancient life, that will launch after 2018. The first proposed observations of methane plumes on Mars was made over a decade ago, from Earth. The data required a lot of processing, and led to controversy among planetary scientists.

 

According to our current understanding of atmospheric chemistry, methane on Mars should be destroyed relatively rapidly (on the order of a few hundred years). That means it is a gas that we shouldn't really be seeing on Mars - unless there is some active process creating or releasing it. On Earth, the majority of methane in the atmosphere comes from biological organisms, which raises the question of whether Mars could also host life - past or present.

 

The orbiter is uniquely designed to map the minute constituents of the Martian atmosphere (such as methane), using a set of highly specialised spectroscopic and imaging instruments. The spectrometers, which can analyse what a gas is made of by measuring the specific wavelengths of sunlight they absorb, are key to measuring the presence of methane and other gases. The relative mixture of the gases observed, along with their composition, can be compared to measurements on Earth in order to provide clues as to whether the origin of the methane could be geological or biological.

 

The spacecraft will get to Mars in mid-October. The first thing it will do is to eject a technology demonstrator, the Schiaparelli lander, to prove that Europe can successfully reach the surface of Mars. The lander will provide a few days of surface weather measurements, lasting as long as the batteries on the lander permit.

 

In the meantime, the orbiter will begin manoeuvres to get into a circular orbit. It will use a fuel-free braking process called "aerobraking" (a somewhat terrifying concept of delicately dragging the spacecraft through the very top of the atmosphere in order to use the friction from the gas molecules to slow it down). This presents another first for Europe, in performing this type of dangerous manoeuvre around Mars.

more at the link...

http://www.marsdaily.com/reports/How_the_ExoMars_mission_could_sniff_out_life_on_Mars_999.html

 

In my view, the methane concentration mapping is the ticket. Finding a good colony location near higher source concentrations for refueling operations.

 

:D

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+Mirumir    5,635
14 hours ago, Draggendrop said:

Not sure about the velocity after the 3rd burn, was not listed in the articles I was viewing. At approximately 10.5 hours, after launch, escape velocity and transit velocity to meet with Mars, was achieved. Since this was the beginning of the launch window, with Mars back a bit in it's orbital plane, the lower of the required velocities, was instituted. If the window of a few days later was used, Mars would be further along in it's orbit and greater transit velocity would be required.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escape_velocity

 

If I come across the Briz firing and achieved velocities, I will post them. The times of firing are here...

 

http://www.russianspaceweb.com/exomars2016-launch.html

We know the distance (relatively speaking :D ), we know the time, but I'm just kinda lazy to crunch the numbers :D Plus, this kind of a calculation would give the trip's average velocity while I'm more interested about the velocity right after burnning stage 3 and escaping the earth's stratosphere. Obviously, it will decay after some time. Any wild guesses? 

 

 

Quote

 

Quote

The escape velocity from Earth is about 40,270 km/h (25,020 mph)

Is it a constant, a required minimum, or does it vary by rocket model? :D That's a mind-boggling speed anyways :D 

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Unobscured Vision    2,668

It just depends on the Mission; but yes, generally they'll use the same general velocity as other Missions to get to Mars. They left early in the window, so it required less than usual to get there this time (which means less fuel required to get into orbit). Nice and efficient. :) 

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Draggendrop    5,747

This article has a lot of images from the launch. some images you have probably seen, others may be new.

 

Marvel at Monday’s Mars launch with these photos

 

Quote

Take a look back at the fiery blastoff of a Russian Proton rocket Monday with the ExoMars 2016 mission to examine the red planet’s atmosphere and test new European entry, descent and landing technologies.

 

The 191-foot-tall (58-meter) rocket took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0931:42 GMT (5:31:42 a.m. EDT) Monday with the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander.

 

Nearly 11 hours later, the rocket’s Breeze M upper stage deployed the ExoMars orbiter on a trajectory toward Mars after a series of maneuvers to build up enough energy to escape Earth’s gravity.

 

The ExoMars mission will arrive at Mars on Oct. 19, making it the European Space Agency’s second probe to explore the red planet.

the link has the images...

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/03/17/marvel-at-mondays-mars-launch-with-these-photos/

 

:D

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Draggendrop    5,747

EXOMARS SPOTTED IN SPACE

 

Exomars_still.png

The most remarkable images, however, were acquired just before midnight local time by the Observatório Astronômico do Sertão de Itaparica team in Brazil led by Daniela Lazzaro, with Sergio Silva at the telescope.

In their images, the spacecraft appears as a bright object surrounded by at least six other fainter spots – elements of Proton’s discarded upper stage – moving together in the sky (see red arrows in annotated version above).

 

Quote

On 14 March, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander were lofted into orbit by a Proton rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, starting a seven-month journey to the Red Planet.

 

Following separation from the final stage at 20:13 GMT (21:13 CET), the craft left on a trajectory pointing to where Mars will be in October, travelling at 33 001 km/h with respect to Earth.

 

For asteroid hunters, ExoMars offers a perfect target because its departure mimicks, in reverse, the approach of a small near-Earth object, or NEO. These include rocky asteroids formed between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter which head towards Earth every so often.

 

For the ExoMars launch, ESA’s NEO coordination centre in Italy organised an international campaign for ground-based optical observations of the departing spacecraft.

 

Quick imaging of a rapidly moving object whose location is only approximately known in a short time window is akin to what would happen if an asteroid were discovered on an imminent impact trajectory with Earth.

 

The predicted path of ExoMars provided by ESA’s Space Debris Office in the Agency’s operations centre in Darmstadt, Germany – home to ExoMars mission control – was converted by the NEO centre into pointing information for telescopes.

 

This information was then shared widely with ESA’s network of collaborating observatories in the southern hemisphere, from where ExoMars was observable. Excellent images were acquired by Alison Tripp and Sarah Roberts using a 1 m-diameter telescope in Australia, and by Grant Christie at the Stardome Observatory in Auckland, New Zealand.

http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2016/03/ExoMars_spotted_in_space

 

ExoMars_spotted_in_space_node_full_image

 

:D

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DocM    16,543

/sigh

 

Anatoly Zak of RussianSpaceWeb.com reports the ExoMars Briz-M upper stage exploded after spacecraft separation rather than continue burns to place it in a disposal orbit.

 

I read the article as implying there may be chunks of Briz-M (aka Breeze-M) trailing ExoMars, on their way to the vicinity of Mars.

 

Others are skeptical of Anatoly's report, so it's probably too early to panic.

 

Briz-M has caused several launch failures in the last decade.

 

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/rockets/a20044/exomars-narrow-escape-launch-disaster/

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+Mirumir    5,635

Even if ExoMars 1 completely fails, ESA and Roscosmos will still continue working together on future missions.

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Draggendrop    5,747

The gif 2 posts up really shows the debris trail. Communications with the payload are good, the long range comm Ae will be deployed in a few weeks. There will be a trajectory change and velocity increase within a few weeks, and hopefully this will evade the "litter'.

 

Here's hoping all will be OK, we will know in a few weeks.

 

Quote

Spacecraft activation

During ExoMars-2016's entire ride on the Proton rocket and on its Briz-M space tug only Russian ground control stations were receiving telemetry from the mission. The European Space Operations Center, ESOC, had to wait for the separation of the TGO spacecraft from Proton's Briz-M upper stage on March 14, 2016, at 20:13:01 GMT (4:13 p.m. EDT).

 

Due to limitations on power consumption onboard the spacecraft on the night side of the Earth, the main transmitter onboard the TGO was activated only one hour 15 minutes after the separation from Briz-M or 11 hours 57 minutes after liftoff.

 

The very first signal acquisition from the ExoMars by the European mission control was made via the Italian Space Agency's small X-band antenna in Malindi, Kenya, at 21:28:26 GMT (5:28 p.m. EDT) on March 14. At right time, the signal appeared on computer screens at ESOC.

 

First order of business was obviously the deployment of solar panels scheduled to begin within a minute after the first radio contact with mission control. Moments later, ESOC confirmed that the panels started moving and few minutes later reported that they had been fully open.

 

Around an hour later, at 22:13 GMT, the spacecraft was scheduled to establish contact via ESA's 15-meter antenna in Maspolamos in the Canary Islands, and at 22:23 GMT also contact Malargue, Argentina, and then, at 23:24 GMT call a ground station in Kourou, French Guiana. The combined radio-measurements from all three sites allowed very accurate determination of the probe's actual trajectory.

 

By the end of its first day in space, the control over the ExoMars-2016 mission was transferred to Europe's Deep-Space Network, ESTRACK, with facilities in Malargue, Argentina, and in New Norcia, Australia, sporting 35-meter antenna dishes.

 

The deployment of the high-gain antenna onboard TGO was scheduled around 22:47 GMT, however its use was not expected until more than two weeks after launch, in order to prevent its powerful X-band signal from interfering with Deep-Space Network antennas on the ground at such a close distance from Earth. The International Telecommunications Union, ITU, imposes limitations on the so-called power flux density and ExoMars' X-band communications system operating at 8,400-8,500 MHz fell within the problematic range.

 

Ground tracking

To add to traditional tracking assets, for the ExoMars launch, ESA’s Near-Earth Object coordination center in Italy led an international campaign for ground-based optical observations of the departing spacecraft.

 

According to ESA, quick imaging of a rapidly moving object whose location is only approximately known in a short time window is akin to what would happen if an asteroid were discovered on an imminent impact trajectory with Earth.

 

The predicted path of ExoMars provided by ESA’s Space Debris Office in the Agency’s operations center in Darmstadt, Germany – home to ExoMars mission control – was converted by the NEO centre into pointing information for telescopes.

 

This information was then shared widely with ESA’s network of collaborating observatories in the Southern hemisphere, from where ExoMars was observable. Excellent images were acquired by Alison Tripp and Sarah Roberts using a one-meter telescope in Australia, and by Grant Christie at the Stardome Observatory in Auckland, New Zealand.

 

The most remarkable images, however, were acquired just before midnight local time by the Observatório Astronômico do Sertão de Itaparica, OASI, team in Brazil led by Daniela Lazzaro, with Sergio Silva at the telescope. They revealed that the ExoMars was accompanied by six large debris, indicating that Briz-M stage likely exploded soon after separating from the spacecraft, instead of going into a safe disposal orbit. Fortunately, the ExoMars spacecraft appeared to be undamaged. (see sidebar)

 

Opening for business

Upon entering its 500-million-kilometer path to Mars, ExoMars-2016 began the so-called Early-Operations Phase of the mission, or EOP for short. During this phase of the flight, lasting until April 24, 2016, all systems and instruments onboard TGO were to be tested by ESOC and ESAC respectively. Engineers from Thales Alenia Space will also check all systems aboard Schiaparelli lander. During this period, ESOC will conduct daily communications sessions with the spacecraft during daylight hours in Darmstadt via New Norcia station in Australia with a backup support via Malargue.

 

Due to Mars' position below the ecliptic plane, ground stations in the Southern Hemisphere were in perfect location for providing constant link with the Mars-bound spacecraft, ESA said.

 

At the same time, the Russian ground stations and tracking assets had no opportunity to follow the separation process. Ground facilities in Brazil and Bolivia, which Russia could use, were out of commission at the time.

 

Cruising to Mars

The cruising phase of the mission officially starts in May and characterized by reduced activities with only three communications sessions scheduled each week. During the period, teams at ESOC will conduct a series of ultra-precise navigation measurements known as "delta-DOR", for Delta-differential One-Way Ranging. This advanced technique uses signals received from quasars deep in our Milky Way galaxy to correct the radio signals received from ExoMars, resulting in an extremely precise position determination. Results will be used to calculate the upcoming midcourse correction maneuver (also called the deep-space maneuver).

 

A second Delta-DOR campaign in September-October will generate results that will help to determine the Mars orbit injection for TGO and the final Schiaparelli descent trajectory.

 

On July 28, TGO will fire its main engine adding around 326 meters per second to the spacecraft's velocity. Known as mid-course correction, the crucial maneuver was intended to adjust the probe's trajectory to ensure that it meets Mars on October 19.

http://www.russianspaceweb.com/exomars2016-mission.html

 

:D

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DocM    16,543

I'm hoping the debris doesn't scatter and hit something useful in Mars orbit.

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Unobscured Vision    2,668

My goodness. Fortunate that it didn't happen with ExoMars still attached.

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Draggendrop    5,747

Europe’s ExoMars orbiter smoothly cruising toward red planet

 

Quote

Ground controllers are running Europe’s ExoMars orbiter through a post-launch checkup a week after its successful liftoff aboard a Proton rocket, and a first look at the probe’s systems revealed no problems, the mission’s flight director said Tuesday.

 

“We’ve been switching on and testing all the systems, including redundant components in certain areas, the antenna, the attitude control system,” said Michel Denis, ExoMars flight director at the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany. “We have done a test maneuver, which was very accurate. It looks good for the commissioning, so far, from the small fraction of it.”

 

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli lander are due to arrive at Mars on Oct. 19, the first European Space Agency mission to the red planet since 2003. The craft are making the interplanetary cruise as one, making the combined probe one of the largest ever sent to Mars.

 

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A report published on the website of Popular Mechanics magazine indicated the Breeze M stage apparently broke apart after releasing ExoMars. The upper stage, which burns a mixture of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants, was supposed to ignite its main engine after the separation of the ExoMars orbiter to veer on a different trajectory from the Mars-bound spacecraft.

 

Imagery obtained late March 14 from OASI Observatory in Brazil, and released by ESA three days later, appears to show at least nine fragments from the Breeze M rocket stage speeding through space.

 

While ESA initially said the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter appeared in the imagery, officials on Wednesday updated the caption to the animated image posted above.

 

“Following additional analysis by teams at ESA’s Near-Earth Object Coordination Center, it has become clear that TGO is in fact not in this image — it was already further ahead and beyond the frame,” officials wrote on the agency’s website. “Thus all of the moving objects in this image are related to the Breeze M.”

 

The Breeze M should have been in two pieces after the launch — the rocket stage’s main body and a detachable fuel tank.

Denis told Spaceflight Now that ExoMars managers in Europe have received no information on the potential explosion from Russian launch authorities.

 

Popular Mechanics reported the ExoMars orbiter could have been damaged by the explosion, and further checks of the craft’s science instruments are needed to ensure the probe has no ill effects from the anomaly. While the ExoMars spacecraft and the Breeze M were still relatively close, the distance was large enough to ensure there is “no risk at all” to the Mars mission, Denis said.

 

“If it’s true, and if it’s true that this explosion took place a couple of hours after separation, then the separation (between ExoMars and the Breeze M) was huge — many kilometers — so there is no risk at all,” Denis said. “We definitely have not seen anything on the spacecraft with dynamics. Of course, we don’t have pictures, but if this explosion had taken place shortly after separation, there might have been an impact, and the spacecraft might have seen something anomalous near it, but we didn’t see anything.”

 

Quote

Engineers at the ExoMars control center in Germany finished an initial round of activation and tests of the Mars-bound spacecraft March 17. The next day, controllers commenced with commissioning — a set of thorough systems checks — to verify the probe is fully functional.

 

The orbiter’s 2.2-meter (7.2-foot) steerable high-gain antenna has been deployed and pointed along each axis, Denis said.

“I think we have explored, more or less, all the range,” Denis said. “It is not yet used for communications with the Earth because we are still too close, but this will be done one week from now.”

 

Critical activities still to come include the switch-on of the Trace Gas Orbiter’s four science instruments beginning April 4.

 

A U.S.-built Electra radio provided by NASA will be turned on April 1 to check its health. The Electra radio will relay commands and scientific data between Earth and landers on the surface of Mars, such as Schiaparelli, the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers, and future robots in development by NASA and Europe. The telecom relay is a faster way to transfer information than via a direct link.

 

Commissioning of the Schiaparelli landing craft should begin April 8, Denis said.

 

The lander briefly turned on shortly after last week’s launch, confirming it survived the rumbling blastoff.

 

“Schiaparelli was switched on for a few minutes and switched off again, so we know that it works, and it generated packets,” Denis said. “We haven’t looked into those. That will be the goal of commissioning in three weeks, but we know it survived the launch.”

 

Another key test still ahead for ExoMars is the first firing of the orbiter’s main engine July 18. That will be followed by a major mid-course correction maneuver July 28 to bend the craft’s trajectory toward Mars.

 

The orbiter’s smaller rocket thrusters have all passed their post-launch tests.

 

“We have tested all the thrusters — all the little engines — one by one such that all thrusters and all redundant thrusters are known to function properly,” Denis said in a phone interview.

 

Smaller correction burns are planned in August, September and in the weeks before arrival at Mars to use the orbiter to precisely aim the Schiaparelli lander toward its touchdown target in Meridiani Planum, a flat plain near the Martian equator.

 

That leads up to separation of Schiaparelli from the Trace Gas Orbiter on Oct. 16, followed 12 hours later by another maneuver to put the orbiter on a path to miss Mars.

more at the link...

http://spaceflightnow.com/2016/03/23/europes-exomars-orbiter-smoothly-cruising-toward-red-planet/

 

:D

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DocM    16,543

Hopefully no damage is found, but this nasty habit Breeze-M stages have of blowing up rather than go into disposal orbits, or during launch, has gotta stop. 

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+Mirumir    5,635
6 hours ago, DocM said:

Hopefully no damage is found, but this nasty habit Breeze-M stages have of blowing up rather than go into disposal orbits, or during launch, has gotta stop. 

I've counted 47 successful launches and 7 failures over a span of 16 years. Correct me if I'm wrong.

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